Is there anything in particular I should look for when buying fish oil supplements?
Also, should I be worried about mercury levels?
– Dennise O’Grady
Bay Head, NJ
The main thing you want to look for is the presence of DHA and EPA (you want anywhere from 500 to 1,000 milligrams of each of those essential fatty acids).
Oil from krill (small, cold-water crustaceans that live in the ocean floor) is apparently starting to be considered the golden standard in some circles since it appears to be the most easily absorbable, and also contains antioxidants not found in oil from fish.
That said, oil from actual fish is just as good a source of those two fatty acids.
Since fish oils are extracted from fish that are very low on the food chain (e.g.: mackerel, herring, sardines, cod), mercury contamination is not a concern.
My rule of thumb is: food first, then supplements. If you can get your omega-3 fatty acids from eating fish, that is best.
However, I realize there are some barriers. Some people do not like the taste of fish, others are vegetarian, and, as is the case with salmon, there is always the doubt of whether the fish you are eating is wild or farmed (farmed fish tend to have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids).
For those interested in eating their DHA and EPA, I highly recommend sardines. They are never farmed, so you can always expect a good dose of those two omega-3 fatty acids!